Tuesday, August 27, 2013

3rd round of positional rankings now available

I've made my latest round of weekly revisions to my QB, RB, WR, TE, D/ST and K rankings.  As always, they are posted at www.scribd.com/laddbiro.

There's been some movement on each of the positions, but nothing terribly dramatic since last week's updates.

Happy drafting!

Monday, August 26, 2013

A real draft, from the 12 hole

The Sporting News Fantasy Source experts held our final, real draft of the preseason tonight.   This one we play for pride and cold hard cash. Naturally, I got stuck with the 12th pick (yes, they fear me).

It's a standard, 12-man league with 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 D/ST and 1 K.

Here's what I got:

Pick 1.12: Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots.  Megatron and 10 RBs went before my pick, but Rice and Marshawn almost slid to me.  So, true to my Perfect Draft strategy, I made the decision to go RB/RB.

Pick 2.1: Chris Johnson, RB, Titans.  I have Johnson ranked as the 6th-best RB in the draft, with Ridley #9.  Just picked them out of order, for no good reason.  Yes, Dez was there.  Hated letting him go.

Pick 3.12: Vincent Jackson, WR, Bucs.  The top WRs were long gone, but Peyton almost fell to me.  A-Rod hung around till 2.12, while Brees, Cam and Peyton also went in this round.  I'm fairly happy with V-Jax as my lead WR.  (FYI, had I waited till now for my RB2, my best option would have been Lacy or McFadden; thus validating my RB/RB strategy.)

Pick 4.1: Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons.  I'm happy with Ryan, but I considered waiting until the swing-back for RG3.  Didn't think he'd be there (but he was; barely).

Pick 5.12: Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys.  Graham, Gronk and Vernon were gone, so it was time.  Gonzo went after my next pick.

Pick 6.1: T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts.  Love Hilton, but wish he was my WR3.  If he produces as I expect, he'll be a great #2, though.

Pick 7.12: Stevie Johnson, WR, Bills.  We'll see...

Pick 8.1: Vincent Brown, WR, Chargers.  This pick could pay off big-time.  Or go pfffft.

Pick 9.12: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans.  You know I love him.  I got him.

Pick 10.1: Le'Veon Bell, RB, Steelers.  What do you do when the RBs are essentially depleted?  You grab a player that is expected to be a workhorse once he returns some time around Week 6 or 7.  My first starting RB's bye is Week 8, so I feel very good about this pick.

Pick 11.12:  Daniel Thomas, RB, Dolphins.  Lamar Miller isn't exactly cemented into Miami's starting lineup.

Pick 12.1: 49ers defense/special teams.  Seattle's unit went 2 rounds earlier.  Shocked San Fran fell this far.

Pick 13.12: Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Falcons.  What are the chances that 30-year-old Steven Jackson misses a start or two this season?  Yeah, I thought so.

Pick 14.1: Matt Schaub, QB, Texans.  You know he's my boy.

Pick 15.12: Marcel Reece, RB, Raiders.  What are the chances that Darren McFadden misses a start or five this season?  You betcha.

Pick 16.1: Matt Prater, K, Broncos.  My top-ranked kicker.

Overall, I'm satisfied with this team, though a championship is far from certain.  I need CJ2K to return, Ryan to take another step forward, T.Y. to emerge and Philip Rivers to fall in love with Vincent Brown.

The Perfect Draft: Let the domination begin

In a perfect fantasy world, my starting lineup this season would feature Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson, C.J. Spiller, Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, A.J. Green and Jimmy Graham. That would be the same perfect world in which all my kids get full-ride college scholarships, Kate Hudson stalks me and I lose weight every time I eat Tex-Mex.

Alas, since our fellow owners are unlikely to cede the entire first round to us, we’ll simply have to work smarter to assemble the most dominant team in our league. Our challenge, therefore, is to secure the best value in each round, methodically building a roster that will soar from Week 1, withstand an injury to one or two key players and peak during the fantasy playoffs. 

With that lofty goal in mind, I’ve analyzed the average draft position (ADP) of each player from multiple fantasy sites to determine the best pick in each round – resulting in my oft-imitated, always-controversial, yet magically delicious Perfect Draft. 

As always, we start with a few key assumptions.  First, we’re in a 10-team non-keeper league using a standard scoring system that starts one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, and one tight end, kicker and team defense.  Second, we are drafting from the middle (fifth) position in a snake format, meaning we won’t have a shot at Adrian Peterson.  Third, since all drafts play out differently, we’ll need a little luck along the way.  Finally, our goal is nothing short of total domination and the abject humiliation of our opponents.

Now, with the fifth pick of the 2013 Perfect Draft, we select…

Round 1.  C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills.  With Fred Jackson firmly relegated to backup duty, Spiller has his chance to explode.  Don’t be surprised if he finishes the season at the top of the RB ranks.

Round 2.  Chris Johnson, RB, Titans.  It would be painful to let Dez Bryant slide by if he’s available, but Johnson solidifies a formidable backfield.  Passing on a second RB here could be costly if you don’t choose very wisely later.

Round 3.  Randall Cobb, WR, Packers.  Peyton Manning is the best pick in this round, but we can’t afford to wait another round for our first receiver.

Round 4.  Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons.  With the explosive arsenal at his disposal, Ryan will provide elite production and offer great value in the fourth round.

Round 5. Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants.  Marques Colston is another solid pick in this round.  Either player makes an excellent WR2 with elite upside.  

Round 6.  Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons.  Given Rob Gronkowski’s injury concerns, only Jimmy Graham is clearly more valuable at his position.  I’d prefer Jason Witten, but his ADP requires a fifth rounder.

Round 7.  Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers.  The hands-down No. 1 receiver in Pittsburgh is due for a breakout season.  Robert Griffin III is awfully tempting here, though.

Round 8.  T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts.  The second-year speedster will be Andrew Luck’s favorite target this season.  Don’t miss out on his upside.

Round 9.  Daryl Richardson, RB, Rams.  He will begin the season as the starter, and his talent should keep him there.  DeAngelo Williams is another intriguing option, given Jonathan Stewart’s injury concerns.

Round 10.  DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans.  A rookie with huge upside, Hopkins will give opposing defenses fits opposite Andre Johnson.

Round 11.  Vincent Brown, WR, Chargers.  Philip Rivers desperately needs a reliable outside receiver, but they’re dropping like flies around him.  If he can stay healthy, the third-year wideout could have a breakout season.

Round 12. Fred Jackson, RB, Bills.  As much as I love Spiller, he’s not immune to injury.  Jackson is arguably the most important handcuff in the league this year.

Round 13.  Jordan Cameron, TE, Browns.  In Norv Turner’s offense, this huge red zone target could change your opinion of Cleveland’s passing game.

Round 14.  Matt Schaub, QB, Texans.  The best backup fantasy QB in the league. 

Round 15.  Steelers defense/special teams.  I’d prefer the 49ers or Seahawks, but they are commanding premiums.  Pittsburgh has a well-earned reputation for fielding quality defenses, and they are almost certain to out-perform their current ADP.

Round 16.  Danny Woodhead, RB, Chargers.  As disappointing as Ryan Mathews has been, Woodhead could be the most productive back in San Diego’s committee.

Round 17.  Dan Bailey, K, Cowboys.  Plenty of strong kickers will be available in the final round.  Bailey is one of the best. 

There you have it: A team with firepower at every position, bench depth with substantial upside and no bye-week dilemmas. 

Now, go forth and make your draft perfect.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Updated RB and Top 100 Rankings

Bad news for those of us predicting great things for Le'Veon Bell, as the Pittsburgh rookie reportedly has a Lisfranc injury and is expected to be out of service for 6-8 weeks.

As a result, I've made a mid-week adjustment to my RB and Top 100 rankings.  As always, they are available here: www.scribd.com/laddbiro.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Round 2 of Positional Rankings now available

Good morning, Fools.  I've updated my positional rankings after this weekend's games and added the Top 100 to the mix.  You can find them all here: www.scribd.com/laddbiro.

Big scare last night with the foot injury to Le'Veon Bell, my ROY and sleeper pick.  Hopefully it's not serious (I've read everything from minor sprain to Lisfranc). Obviously, if he's out for an extended period, that will alter the RB pecking order quite a bit.  But for now, I'm holding him steady (and high) in my rankings.

I hope you're not drafting this early; but if you are, good luck!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Don’t snooze on this year’s sleepers

It’s the time of year when fantasy enthusiasts obsess over draft order and which players will be available when the time comes to make that fateful first-round draft pick.  Beast Mode or Shady?  Megatron or A-Rod?  Miller or Bud?

As important as your initial pick can be, it pales in comparison to the handful of selections you’ll make – or miss – several rounds later.  After all, as happy as you may be to land Doug Martin or Alfred Morris this year, they won’t be the bargain they were to the savvy players that stole them late in last season’s draft and rode them to the postseason.

Fantasy veterans know the secret to great drafting is not simply choosing the best players available, but doing so no earlier than necessary.  You may share my belief that T.Y. Hilton is on the verge of a breakout season; but you’re hurting yourself – and, worse yet, begging for ridicule from your opponents – if you pull the trigger too early. 

Who are this year’s hidden gems?  Let’s take a look at my Sleeper Picks of 2013 – several players poised to out-perform their current ADP (average draft position). 

Matt Schaub, QB, Texans.  In my book, there’s no better fantasy backup than Schaub, who’s seemingly always good for 4,000-plus yards and more than 20 TDs in a healthy season.  This year, another play-making weapon (see below) has been added to his arsenal opposite Andre Johnson, promising even more upside.

Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers. Bell has the look of this year’s Doug Martin. Pittsburgh loves big workhorse backs, and his competition for carries has proven to be mediocre at best.

Daryl Richardson, RB, Rams.  The race is on to succeed Steven Jackson in St. Louis, and Richardson has the inside track.  The second-year back has breakaway speed, a strong burst and good hands.  He’ll almost certainly open the season as the starter.  If he holds onto the job, he’ll blow away his current ADP.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts.  Andrew Luck is the real deal.  Reggie Wayne is getting up there.  Hilton came into the league with his quarterback and showed all the signs of being poised for a breakout sophomore campaign.  Don’t miss out on this high flier.

Vincent Brown, WR, Chargers.  Danario Alexander is lost for the season and Malcom Floyd (knee) is out until Week 1 at best.  Brown has locked down a starting job and will be given every opportunity to soar.  Philip Rivers desperately needs a reliable target, and a healthy Brown fits the bill.

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans.  Make no mistake: Houston believes its first-round prize is the explosive weapon they’ve lacked for years opposite Andre Johnson.  He should be fully recovered from his mild concussion by Week 1.  Give Hopkins a couple more weeks to get his bearings and he’ll be ready to slot in as your WR3.

Jordan Cameron, TE, Browns.  It’s hard to like anything associated with Cleveland’s passing game, but Cameron could be the exception.  He’s had an excellent preseason and is clearly in sync with his quarterback.  The over-sized, yet deceptively fast receiver should blossom in Norv Turner’s offense.  Scoop him up late and enjoy the upside.

Zach Sudfeld, TE, Patriots.  He’s been turning heads in New England all preseason.  With Rob Gronkowski in jeopardy of missing Week 1, Sudfeld is expected to step in right away.  If he continues to impress, he could fill Aaron Hernandez’s role in the Patriots’ offense.  That alone makes him well worth a flier.

Next week: My oft-imitated, always controversial, yet magically delicious Perfect Draft.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Round 1 of the Fool's 2013 Positional Rankings now posted!

It's always with a sense of relief that I announce that my first round of positional rankings are now done.  Phew!

You can find my 2013 rankings, and Fool's Take, on the top fantasy QBs, RBs, WRs, TEs, Ks and D/STs here: www.scribd.com/laddbiro.

I'll get the Top 100 compilation up soon.  These will have to suffice for now!

You'll find some surprises, as always; and, no doubt, you'll think I'm crazy on some of my picks.  Hey, it's no fun if you don't go out on a limb once in a while, right?  If I run with the crowd, I might as well just publish an ADP list.

My hope is that you use my rankings, along with ADP lists you can find anywhere, to help craft your own Perfect Draft in a couple of weeks.  I'll update my lists every Tuesday through the end of the preseason.

Enjoy, Fools!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Don’t bank on huge returns from this year’s rookie class

Six rookies made impressive debuts during the 2012 season.  Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson set a high bar for this year’s freshman quarterbacks, while Doug Martin, Alfred Morris and Trent Richardson put up the gaudiest production for a trio of first-year backs since the bumper crop of 2008 (Matt Forte, Chis Johnson, Steve Slaton).

No receivers or tight ends finished among the Top 20 at their positions, however.  I guess that’s what happens when the pick of the litter (Justin Blackmon) is banished to the aerial wasteland of Jacksonville.

So what are we to make of this year’s newcomers?  

Remember that when evaluating the fantasy potential of any rookie, talent is rarely the most decisive factor.  More relevant is the opportunity presented to the player, which is also a multi-faceted equation.

Does the newcomer have a clear path to a starting gig?  Will he join a high-powered offense, or one whose punter is its most lethal weapon?  Is he healthy heading into the season, or has he missed invaluable preseason reps due to nagging injuries?

With these variables in mind, let’s examine the Class of 2013 and assess its members’ likelihood of shining during their inaugural seasons.


LeVeon Bell, RB, Steelers.  No team values a big workhorse back more than Pittsburgh, and Bell has the look of an every-down player.  He’s blessed with good hands, deceptive speed and outstanding athleticism.  The Michigan State product is fully expected to be the opening-week starter, despite tweaking his knee during training camp.

Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals.  A preseason hamstring injury has slowed his progression, but the first runner drafted in April is expected to supplant BenJarvus Green-Ellis at some point this season.  Just don’t invest too high a pick on him.

Montee Ball, RB, Broncos.  Those expecting Ball to win the starting job outright are in for a big letdown, as head coach John Fox has rarely entrusted rookie backs with a heavy load.  Pass protection is mandatory in Denver’s scheme, and Ball has struggled in training camp.  Look for the rookie to be eased in via committee as the season progresses.

Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers.  Green Bay hasn’t had a viable fantasy back since Ryan Grant in 2009.  The team believes Lacy can be the stud they’ve lacked, but the Packers will still live and die by the pass.  If you can grab him cheap, you might get some value.

Zac Stacy, RB, Rams.  This fifth-round pick from Vanderbilt has a chance to start at some point this season, given the unproven talent ahead of him.  For now, the job is Daryl Richardson’s to lose.  Grab Stacy late and you just might end up with a bargain.

Tavon Austin, WR, Rams.  St. Louis didn’t use the eighth-overall draft pick on Austin to groom him for the future.  His diminutive stature makes him risky, but Percy Harvin Lite is an electrifying, multidimensional weapon that can score from anywhere on the field.

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans.  Houston finally has a talented young wideout to line up opposite Andre Johnson and provide coverage nightmares for opposing defenses.  Give him a few weeks to get acclimated to the speed of the NFL, and Hopkins could become a reliable fantasy backup.


Geno Smith, QB, Jets.  With only Mark Sanchez in his way, Smith will almost surely get his chance to start.  But the offensive woes in New York run far deeper than Sanchez, making Smith’s prospects for early success dubious at best.

EJ Manuel, QB, Bills.  Buffalo invested a premium pick on this strong-armed, but raw, prospect.  Like Smith, he faces subpar competition (we’re looking at you, Kevin Kolb), so Manuel will get his moment in the limelight.  Still, he’s at least a year away from fantasy relevance.

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Vikings.  He need only climb over two mediocre veterans to earn a starting role opposite Greg Jennings, which isn’t too tall an order for a receiver with his credentials.  But in Minnesota’s pass-challenged offense, Patterson’s talents will likely be squandered.

Aaron Dobson, WR, Patriots.  If not for New England’s remarkably miserable track record with rookie wideouts, you’d think the team’s second-round pick would offer huge upside.  Only Julian Edelman stands between Dobson and significant face time with Tom Brady.

Robert Woods, WR, Bills.  He’s fully expected to earn the starting job opposite Stevie Johnson, but that role has rarely translated into fantasy value. 

Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals.  With Jermaine Gresham ahead of him, the best tight end of his draft class will be hard-pressed to make a fantasy impact in his freshman campaign.

Next week: A look at the Sleeper candidates of 2013.
August 26: The Perfect Draft